NCAA roundup: No. 5 VCU routs Akron


Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — VCU was at its best, pressing, running — and winning with ease.

The fifth-seeded Rams set an NCAA tournament record that stood for about an hour Thursday night, throttling 12th-seeded Akron 88-42 for the most lopsided victory by a team seeded third or lower in the NCAA tournament.

By the end of the night, No. 4 seed Syracuse had broken the mark by routing 13th-seeded Montana 81-34.

Troy Daniels had 23 points and Juvonte Reddic scored 21 for the Rams. They broke a margin-of-defeat record by a team seeded third or lower set by No. 3 Arizona in 1996, when it beat 14th-seeded Valparaiso by 39 points, according to STATS.

The previous mark by a fifth-seeded team against a 12th-seeded squad was set by Wyoming in a 35-point win over Howard in 1981 and matched by Tennessee against Long Beach State in 2007, according to STATS.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Daniels said. “We’ll take it, but we’ve got to get ready to play Saturday.”

The Rams (27-8) will play fourth-seeded Michigan for a spot in the round of 16.

“That’s what we live for,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said.

Akron (26-7) was seriously short-handed, and it showed.

In addition to playing without suspended point guard Alex Abreu, the Zips had other problems as well. Starting guard Brian Walsh and reserve center Pat Forsythe were limited by the flu, and reserve guard Deji Ibitayo wasn’t even in uniform because of back spasms.

“On top of everything else, we have one guy hurt his back and two guys with the flu,” Akron forward Nick Harney said. “But we weren’t the only team that had to deal with adversity. There were other teams here that overcame things and won. You have to play the hand you are dealt. We didn’t get the job done, and I hate that for the seniors.

“We’ll have more chances to get wins in the tournament, but those guys won’t.”

The way VCU played, though, Akron might’ve had a lot of trouble even if it was at full strength.

VCU looks as though it might have what it takes to make another run in the NCAA tournament. But unlike its 2011 trip to the Final Four, hardly anyone would be shocked if the Rams win three more games to reach the national semifinals.

Smart wants his players to wreak havoc with a full-court press and a fast-paced offense, and they did just that against the Zips.

Without Abreu, who was arrested on drug trafficking charges two weeks ago, Akron struggled to simply get the ball to the other end of the court.

“We definitely thought we could use that to our advantage and go after them and exploit that,” said VCU guard Rob Brandenberg, who scored 14 points and had one of his team’s 11 steals.

VCU forced the Zips into 10-second violations twice in less than a minute early in the game after they led 6-4, and the Rams scored 10 straight points to take control for good.

“We used so much energy trying to get the ball up the court, we couldn’t guard them,” Akron coach Keith Dambrot said.

The Atlantic 10 team sealed the victory by closing the first half with a 16-3 run.

The only question after halftime was how large the winning margin would be, and Smart wasn’t going to be satisfied with his reserves cruising to an easy victory.

With his team up by 40 midway through the second half, Smart didn’t show any mercy on his former boss and close friend, Dambrot. Smart left his starters in the game until there were about seven minutes left.

“We’re not going to fall back and play zone,” Smart said. “That’s not what we do.”

The Rams kept pressing, making behind-the-back passes, hitting layups and draining 3-pointers along with an alley-oop dunk in a relentlessly dominating performance.

“If you’re up, you can’t let up,” VCU guard Darius Theus said. “We made up our minds at halftime that we weren’t stopping.”

Smart didn’t stop coaching even when his team was leading 65-34 with 15:04 left.

Before addressing his players in a huddle, he started the timeout with a face-to-face conversation with Daniels — their noses inches apart — perhaps pointing him toward improving for his next test against the previously top-ranked Wolverines.

“He was telling me to box out,” Daniels recalled. “I said, ‘OK, Coach, I got you.’”

Demetrius Treadwell scored 15 and Zeke Marshall had 11 points for the Mid-American Conference champion Zips, who shot below 35 percent.

While forcing turnovers, VCU took good care of the basketball when it was on offense.

VCU forced 22 turnovers and gave up the ball just seven times — at least once at the end of the game on purpose — to narrowly miss another feat. Since 1990, the largest turnover differential when one team had seven or fewer turnovers was 16 set by Syracuse in 1996 against Mississippi State and matched by Utah State against Ohio State in 2001, according to STATS.

WEST REGIONAL

ARIZONA 81, BELMONT 64

SALT LAKE CITY — Mark Lyons scored 23 points and sixth-seeded Arizona rolled past Belmont.

The Wildcats (26-7) used their huge size advantage to shut down the Bruins (26-7), who are 0-6 in tourney games. Arizona held a 44-18 edge on the boards, outscored Belmont 36-18 in the paint, blocked five shots and outshot the Bruins from 3-point range.

The Wildcats made 9 of 17 3-pointers, including a critical one from Solomon Hill with 4:40 remaining to stop an 11-2 Belmont run, and shot 57 percent overall.

Bruins guard Ian Clark entered shooting better than 46 percent from 3-point range but was 3 of 8 from beyond the arc.

Kerron Johnson led Belmont with 22 points and Clark finished with 21.

Kevin Parrom, Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Johnson added 12 points each for Arizona.

WICHITA STATE 73, PITTSBURGH 55

Malcolm Armstead scored 22 points, Cleanthony Early added 21 and ninth-seeded Wichita State ousted Pittsburgh.

Freshman center Steven Adams led Pitt (24-9) with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Call Hall added 11 points for the Shockers (27-8).

The Shockers forced Pitt into 15 turnovers and held the Panthers to 35 percent shooting, including 1 of 17 from 3-point range.

Pitt’s leading scorer, Tray Woodall, missed his first four shots and finished with two points. He shot 1 of 12, including 0 for 5 from beyond the arc, with five turnovers.

EAST REGIONAL

BUTLER 68, BUCKNELL 56

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Andrew Smith had 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, Roosevelt Jones also scored 14 and sixth-seeded Butler made its free throws down the stretch to hold off Bucknell.

After trailing for most of the game, 11th-seeded Bucknell got back into it with a 19-2 second-half run. But after Joe Willman’s jumper cut Butler’s lead to 43-42 with 6:56 left, the Bison (28-6) went almost five minutes without scoring. Butler went 18 of 20 at the line in the last 4:43.

Willman scored a career-high 20 points for Bucknell, but the Bison couldn’t overcome an off day by two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala. Bucknell’s career scoring leader had nine points, only the second time this season he failed to reach double figures.

CALIFORNIA 64, UNLV 61

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Allen Crabbe had 19 points and nine rebounds, reserve Robert Thurman scored all 12 of his points on dunks and 12th-seeded California held off UNLV.

Buoyed by the crowd support of a strong contingent so close to Berkeley, the Golden Bears (21-11) held the Runnin’ Rebels (25-10) without a basket for more than 11 minutes in the second half. Cal turned a tie game into a nine-point lead during that stretch and withstood a late UNLV push for its first tournament win since 2010.

The fifth-seeded Rebels rallied to within a point in the final seconds before missed free throws and a costly inbounds pass sealed the loss.

Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 15 points and Anthony Bennett shook off a poor start to finish with 15 points and 11 rebounds for UNLV, which beat Cal 76-75 in Berkeley on Dec. 9.

Cal will face Syracuse in the third round.

SYRACUSE 81, MONTANA 34

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Brandon Triche scored 20 points, C.J. Fair added 13 and the fourth-seeded Orange shut down No. 13 seed Montana with their zone defense in the biggest NCAA tournament blowout by a team seeded third or lower.

Michael Carter-Williams chipped in four points, eight rebounds and nine assists as the Orange (27-9) raced out to an early lead that grew as big as 50 points and coasted past the Grizzlies (25-7) to their most lopsided tournament win since beating Brown 101-52 in the first round in 1986.

MIDWEST REGIONAL

LOUISVILLE 79, NORTH CAROLINA A&T 48

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Russ Smith scored 23 points and had eight of Louisville’s NCAA tournament-record 20 steals in an easy win over North Carolina A&T.

Peyton Siva added eight assists and four steals for top-seeded Louisville, which limited the 16th-seeded Aggies (20-17) to 42 percent shooting and harassed them into 27 turnovers. It was the 11th straight victory for the Cardinals (30-5), who will play Colorado State on Saturday.

Rick Pitino and the Big East champions quickly ended a postseason run for the Aggies, who finally earned their first NCAA tournament win on Tuesday. Bruce Beckford led North Carolina A&T with 12 points.

COLORADO STATE 84, MISSOURI 72

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Dorian Green scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half and eighth-seeded Colorado State ran away from Missouri.

Green, who went scoreless with five turnovers in last year’s second-round loss to Murray State, did much better this time as the Rams shot nearly 58 percent in the first half.

Minnesota transfer and Rams big man Colton Iverson outrebounded Missouri by himself through 27 minutes and finished with 13 boards.

First-year Rams coach Larry Eustachy earned the victory with his fourth tournament team, but the road gets tougher as they advance to face top-seeded Louisville in Saturday’s third-round Midwest Regional game at Rupp Arena.

Phil Pressey’s 20 points led the Tigers (23-11).

MICHIGAN STATE 65, VALPARAISO 54

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Derrick Nix had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help power third-seeded Michigan State past the 14th-seeded Crusaders in the Midwest Regional.

The Spartans went on a 26-5 run in the first half to take control, and cruised to an easy victory.

Michigan State (26-8) will play Memphis on Saturday when coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans will be shooting for a spot in the round of 16 for the fifth time in six years.

The Crusaders (26-8) were no match for Michigan State in their first NCAA tourney in nine years.

Erik Buggs scored 14 and Matt Kenney had 10 points for the Crusaders.

MEMPHIS 54, SAINT MARY’S 52

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Matthew Dellavedova’s 3-pointer from the right wing missed everything as time expired, allowing sixth-seeded Memphis to hold on for a win over 11th-seeded Saint Mary’s.

The Tigers (31-4) led by 15 in the first half but nearly gave the game away in the final seconds.

With Memphis ahead 54-49, Eividas Petrulis banked in a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds to play. The Tigers then lost the ball when the Gaels’ Jordan Giusti deflected the inbounds pass off Joe Jackson of Memphis and out of bounds.

Saint Mary’s (28-7) was out of timeouts but had a chance to regroup while officials reviewed the previous sequence. It didn’t matter. Dellavedova, the career leader in scoring for Saint Mary’s, was able to get a shot off, but it didn’t come close to going in.

It was the first win in the NCAA tournament for Memphis since 2009, when John Calipari was still coach.

D.J. Stephens had nine points and eight blocks for Memphis, and Jackson had 14 points and seven assists. Brad Waldow scored 17 points to lead Saint Mary’s.

Dellavedova had 10 points, seven assists and six turnovers in 40 minutes.

SAINT LOUIS 64, NEW MEXICO STATE 44

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dwayne Evans scored 24 points, Cody Ellis added 12 and fourth-seeded Saint Louis overwhelmed New Mexico State in the Midwest Regional.

Playing through Rick Majerus’ death in December, Saint Louis reached another mark for its late coach. The Billikens (28-6) eclipsed the 1988-89 team’s school record of 27 victories.

Evans shot 11 of 16 and finished a point shy of his career best to propel Saint Louis past 7-foot-5 New Mexico State freshman Sim Bhullar. The Billikens held Bhullar to four points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

Saint Louis plays Oregon on Saturday.

Bandja Sy had 17 points and nine rebounds for the 13th-seeded Aggies (24-11), who shot 28 percent.

OREGON 68, OKLAHOMA STATE 55

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Damyean Dotson scored 17 points and Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 17 rebounds to help 12th-seeded Oregon beat fifth-seeded Oklahoma, extending a run that began in the Pac-12 tournament.

Dominic Artis scored 13 points and helped frustrate Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart on the defensive end to give the Ducks (27-8) their first tournament win in six years.

Smart came into the game with the hype of a top NBA prospect but was held to 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting for the Cowboys (24-9).

SOUTH REGIONAL

MICHIGAN 71, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 56

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Glenn Robinson III scored 21 points and Mitch McGary added 13 points and nine rebounds, helping fourth-seeded Michigan overcome a rough night for star Trey Burke.

Burke made only two field goals and left the game briefly in the second half after a hard fall under the basket. The star point guard came back after that, but he finished with only six points.

Michigan (27-7) advanced anyway behind Robinson, McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 21 points.

South Dakota State (25-10), the 13th seed, trailed by only four at halftime but couldn’t keep up. High-scoring guard Nate Wolters was held to 10 points.

Burke was limited to single digits for the first time all season.

Michigan plays VCU on Saturday.

 

Rules for posting comments